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Lord Monkswell: My Lords, bearing in mind that over the period of this Conservative Government, in world terms, the standard of living of this country has dropped from 13th to 18th in the table, and bearing in mind that the per capita income in the Republic of Ireland is now greater than that for the United Kingdom, how many more years of Conservative Government must we have before this country qualifies for ODA assistance under the criterion of giving money to the poorest nations of the world?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Well, my Lords, we are sinking to a depth which I did not expect to see in your Lordships' House, whatever might happen in other places. I can only say to the noble Lord that I do not believe he has looked at the figures. According to the figures, the average household is a good deal better off in real terms than any of those with whom I deal on a day-to-day basis. I am talking about countries which have fewer than 700 dollars per head per annum. That is a very tiny sum when compared with the average income in this country. Anyone who knows anything about figures will not deny that some people will be poorer than others. The overall movement in this country of income after tax has been up and up, and under a Conservative Government it will continue to be so.
Lord Judd: My Lords, will the Minister accept that it is a final indictment of the Government's approach to overseas development that, at the eleventh hour plus, they produce 160 pages in response to an Opposition Question when in 18 years of government they have never produced a single White Paper on the overseas aid and development programme?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Judd, believes that this document was produced since he put down his Question, he is living in Cloud-cuckoo-land. This annual report was published last year and the year before. It is a regular document which, if he had read it in previous years, he might have learnt something about it. All I can say is that I am very grateful to the people who really know what is going on, and they are the staff of the ODA.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, does the Minister agree that while the Metropolitan Police have been doing a good job in difficult circumstances, the Government have failed abysmally in dealing with violent crime? Is it not a disaster for the people of London that the violent crime rate increased by 20 per cent. in the past year alone to 90,000? Is not the truth that this Government are weak on violent crime and weak on the causes of violent crime?
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, since 1946, crime has risen by 2,305 per cent.; between 1946 and 1979, violent crime rose by 803 per cent. and between 1979 and 1996, it rose by 166 per cent. Noble Lords opposite may wring their hands about crime, and about violent crime in particular, but where were they when I looked for support to crack down on violent crime? We are extremely concerned about the rise in violent crime and we are committed to introducing tough measures to cut down on crime, and particularly on violent and persistent crime as well as crimes such as domestic burglary, drug dealing and repeat violent offences. Noble Lords opposite, however, were found wanting when it came to putting their fine words into action.
Lord Molloy: My Lords, is the Minister prepared to consider what I regard as a vital issue; namely, the reduction of manpower in the police force in many of our London boroughs? We are all proud of our police officers, who do splendid work. However, in the London Borough of Ealing there has been such a massive reduction in the number of police officers that the Greenford and Northolt areas now have no patrolling policemen whatsoever. Such things are noted by the criminal classes who take full advantage of them.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, since 1979 the Government have increased the funding for the police by 90 per cent. in real terms. I and my ministerial colleagues on these Benches take daily criticism from noble Lords opposite about the level of expenditure on our programmes, but tell that to Mr. Gordon Brown in another place who has pledged to continue that level of expenditure on programmes!
The noble Lord, Lord Molloy, makes an important point because there are now 16,000 more policemen than in 1979. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister pledged to fund another 5,000. The money for that was made available last year and money has been made available this year. The whole 5,000 will be funded by the end of the next financial year. We shall meet our pledge. However, two points arise from that, one with particular regard to London. Sadly, because of the reappearance of the IRA on the streets of London, the Commissioner chose to use the money to pay for extra overtime using experienced policemen. That was what happened to London's money for new policemen. However, the Metropolitan Commissioner has welcomed the extra money for the financial year
Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, is the Minister aware that some of us have found her answers to these questions puzzling because they appear to relate to the Crime (Sentences) Bill? Is she also aware that if Parliament had been prorogued next week or after Easter many of the Government's legislative problems would not have arisen? Is she further aware that some of us find it very strange that the Government decided to prorogue Parliament in the way that they did?
In inviting the House to agree to the Report of the Committee for Privileges I should like to pay tribute to the noble and learned Lords, Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle and Lord Slynn of Hadley. They felt, I think rightly, that the House would wish to conclude this
Those of your Lordships who have had an opportunity of reading the opinions of the noble and learned Lords will, I am sure, have no doubt that the committee has reached the right conclusion and that neither of the two sons purporting to be the sons of the Third Baron can, in fact, be an heir to the peerage. In the case of the elder, Andrew, the committee was shown overwhelming genetic evidence that he cannot be the son of the late Lord Moynihan; and so far as the younger, Daniel, is concerned, the evidence clearly shows that he is the child of a bigamous marriage and is therefore illegitimate. In those circumstances, it is clear beyond doubt that the petitioner, Colin Moynihan, must be the rightful heir and that his Petitions must succeed.